Your Guide To Jazz In Miami

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By: Gino R. Campodónico

Let’s paint the town red! From speakeasy-style jazz bars to annual festivals, this is your guide to “all that jazz” in Miami. Here are all the Miami spots where you can listen to live jazz during your stay.

Best Venues

Close-up of jazz drummer & bassist
Live Jazz at The Betsy

The Betsy Hotel

Ocean Drive’s The Betsy Hotel is one of the most reliable venues in South Beach for live jazz music. The swanky hotel is known for its devotion to arts and culture with ongoing programming, including the longest-running live music series on Miami Beach. Enjoy a Jazz Brunch at the hotel’s onsite restaurant LT Steak & Seafood every weekend starting at 11 a.m.

Historic Hampton House

An iconic U.S. segregation-era motel and lounge, the Historic Hampton House, located in the Brownsville neighborhood of Miami (near Liberty City), is a great venue for live music and monthly jazz performances. Through the years, the Historic Hampton House has been visited by some of the most influential entertainers and thought leaders in modern history, including Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, Cannonball Adderley, Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Althea Gibson, and many more.

Display of colorful cocktails
Creative cocktails, hip vibes & live music at The Corner

The Corner

The Corner in Downtown Miami has been the spot for live jazz for years. Not only did Miami New Times name “Downtown Jazz at The Corner” as Miami’s Best Jazz Night in its coveted “Best of Miami” issue a few years ago, the popular newspaper also highlighted the amazing cocktails served at this cozy New Orleans-style bar. Good music and drinks? Sounds like a perfect recipe for a great night out. And if you’re a fan of experiencing destinations as a local, then prepare to make some new friends because this late-night haunt has been favored by hip locals since it opened.

Saxophone being played
Catch live jazz at New Orleans-style Lagniappe

Lagniappe House

The beauty of Lagniappe, a New Orleans-style bar located in Midtown Miami, near the Design District, is that there’s live music every night from 9 p.m. to midnight – and it usually leans towards jazz. Live music acts are updated often, so be sure to check out the bar’s music schedule to see who’s up next. Lagniappe boasts a large wine and beer menu along with a selection of small plates to enjoy while you listen to bands on its charming outdoor terrace.

Jazz at MOCA

If you’re a jazz enthusiast, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami holds a free monthly jazz concert on the last Friday of every month. Enhance your experience with a little art by visiting the MOCA gallery, which is open on Wednesdays from noon - 7 p.m. and Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. If you can't make it to the concert, no problem. You can catch the live stream online.

Exterior view of The Arsht at dusk
The Arsht Center hosts the Jazz Roots Series

Annual Jazz Festivals

Jazz Roots – Seasonal

The popular Jazz Roots performance series at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County presents several shows throughout the year in its acoustically superb Knight Concert Hall in Downtown Miami. The concerts bring together jazz legends from around the globe, with a mix of shows that honor the jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole, with others that explore jazz fusion, such as British, Cuban and Latin jazz.

Dee Dee Bridgewater singing with her band
Dee Dee Bridgewater Quartet at South Beach Jazz Festival

South Beach Jazz Festival – January

A jazz festival unlike any other, the South Beach Jazz Festival features talented musicians who are differently-abled. The festival features open-air performances by local ensembles on the Lincoln Road promenade and other venues across Miami Beach, with most being free and open the public. The event showcases a variety of jazz stylings including classical, Latin and New Orleans.

View of the crowd & stage at Jazz In The Gardens
Local & international performers at Jazz in the Gardens

Jazz in the Gardens – March

Heralded as one of the best jazz festivals in North America for over a decade, Jazz in the Gardens takes place annually at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. The festival highlights both local and international musicians in jazz, R&B, gospel and soul, including the likes of Lionel Richie, Chaka Khan, Anita Baker, Smokey Robinson and Brandy. The festival also boasts a marketplace dedicated to artwork, jewelry and fashion, as well as delicious Caribbean food.

Jazz Appreciation Month – April

Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) was created by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. to recognize the significant contribution that jazz music has made to society. Miami joins the celebration annually with panel discussions, performances and special events throughout the destination. The Betsy South Beach Hotel and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami anchor the celebrations with unique events that explore jazz, funk, R&B, Latin and world music jazz.

People enjoying live music
Celebrate jazz & beyond at the Bayfront Jazz Festival

Bayfront Jazz Festival at FPL Solar Amphitheater – April

The Bayfront Jazz Festival at FPL Solar Amphitheater, formerly the Miami Downtown Jazz Festival, is a five-day celebration of jazz and jazz-inspired sounds from Miami and beyond, including a cornucopia of musical styles from Latin jazz to blues, funk and even a touch of steel pan. The festival is focused on free live performances at the Historic Lyric Theater in Overtown and Tina Hills Pavilion in Downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park.

Miami Smooth Jazz Festival – November

A jazz festival at a zoo? Only in Miami! The Miami Smooth Jazz Festival takes place on the grounds of Zoo Miami in Southwest Miami Dade County, the largest zoo in Florida. Featuring top musical talent in jazz, R&B, Latin jazz and fusion, the festival also includes unique vendors, exhibitions, a showcase of local food vendors and more.

Band posing with instruments
True jazz lovers flock to Miami's festivals

Music In The Isles – November

In Sunny Isles Beach, Music in the Isles is a one-night only event which takes place under the stars at Gateway Park. Past performers include The Spinners and Cornell Gunter’s Coasters featuring Edwin Cooke and Lourdes Valentin. It’s a highly anticipated celebration for true lovers of jazz music.

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